More than 80 teenagers from across Australia gathered in Sydney (NSW) last week for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia’s (AUC) CHOSEN teen leadership convention.
Held in Lane Cove, the conference has run every second year since 2008 and comprises Adventist teens aged 14 to 16 who have displayed leadership qualities in their local churches.
The program is jam-packed with events designed to stimulate and inspire a teen mind, with mentoring and leadership talks a highlight of each day. Trainer Graeme Fraunfelder led in morning and evening mixers and the daily afternoon activities. Space was also provided twice a day to split into “Guy Talk” and “Girl Talk”, focusing on topics relevant to teenagers.
“The teens are picked because of their leadership ability, so our purpose is to grow that potential exponentially in every aspect of their lives—physically, spiritually, mentally and socially,” said AUC director of youth ministries Pastor Jeff Parker.
“It has been really awesome,” said Pastor Daniel Matteo, youth director for the Tasmanian Conference. “It’s great to see kids stepping up and out of their comfort zones and doing things they’ve never done before.”
Guest presenters over the week included former Young Australian of the Year Glen Gerreyn, ADRA Open Heart International general manager Michael Were and Christian youth speaker Jodie Christinat. Melbourne young adult entrepreneur Lorraine Ngwenya was a guest presenter for the morning Teen Talk sessions and spoke about how identity affects all aspects of our lives.
“It’s such an important topic because I feel like until we know who we are, we can’t really do what we’re meant to do,” she said. “And if we know who we are in Christ, then we’re empowered to live life the way He wants us to. I wish somebody had done this for me in my teens.”
Each of the nine conferences across Australia was represented, with two young adult mentors from each conference also attending.
“I love camp experiences like this,” said Melbourne mentor Michael Stekla. “You get to take on some kids and encourage them, have an influence in their life and see them grow throughout the week.”
Success stories of growth from those involved with the CHOSEN program continue to surface. Taylah, a young adult from Tasmania, was the only young person at her church when she attended CHOSEN two years ago. After the experience, she went back to her pastor and told him she wanted to start a youth group—one which now has 10 young people regularly attending. Because of prayer and the growth of the youth group and their families, there are now around 40-50 regularly attending members and visitors at church each week.
“The life-changing experiences we have seen from this program are incredible,” said Pastor Parker. “We are wanting our teens to step up in their local churches, not just to become better leaders but to actually shine as leaders.”